Scallop group wants council to rethink

A GROUP campaigning for the controversial scallop shell sculpture to be moved is hoping to persuade a council to re-think its position.A group of Aldeburgh residents have formed a group called The Voices of the People, and called a public meeting on Tuesdayto gauge opinion on the position of Maggi Hambling's tribute to composer Benjamin Britten, which was installed on Aldeburgh beach last year.

A GROUP campaigning for the controversial scallop shell sculpture to be moved is hoping to persuade a council to re-think its position.

A group of Aldeburgh residents have formed a group called The Voices of the People, and called a public meeting on Tuesdayto gauge opinion on the position of Maggi Hambling's tribute to composer Benjamin Britten, which was installed on Aldeburgh beach last year.

The sculpture was given to the district council, and lies on their land. After a review earlier this year, the local authority said it should stay where it is, but campaigners re-kindled the debate at Tuesday's meeting.

Around 260 people turned up, and a majority voted in favour of a three-point proposal resolving:

N To call on Suffolk Coastal District Council to accept the present location of the sculpture was wrong.

N To establish a working group with adequate representation from Aldeburgh to consider alternative sites;

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N and to agree a process of public consultation to approve the site ultimately chosen for the sculpture.

David Gordon, chairman of The Voices of the People committee, said the meeting had “exceeded expectations” and he now hopes they can discuss the site issue with Suffolk Coastal leader Ray Herring, who was at the public meeting on Tuesday.

Mr Herring made it clear yesterdaythat while he was happy to meet the group, and give any information he could, Suffolk Coastal would not be taking the lead in any initiative to move the sculpture.

Mr Gordon felt the meeting reflected the strong feeling in the town over the issue and a meeting with Mr Herring is planned, he said.

Mr Gordon said: “I think it has now been made very clear to Suffolk Coastal what the people of Aldeburgh think and I hope Mr Herring will now do what we have asked him to do.

“I just cannot see that after listening to that, Mr Herring can possibly think the scallop is in the right place. It's wrong on every possible count. All we have got to do is to get him to accept that, and then we can move on,” he said.

The location of the sculpture in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has split the town, and attracted comments from national figures, including broadcaster Humphrey Burton, who is now a member of the committee campaigning to have it moved.

Petitions for and against the location were submitted to Suffolk Coastal earlier this year, and the council carried out a review of the issue after an approach from Aldeburgh Town Council. It concluded that no alternative site seemed likely to achieve anything but further controversy.

Mr Gordon said he hoped all the interested parties could be brought together, including Miss Hambling and the Britten Foundation.

“I think Suffolk Coastal and Ray Herring is central to this now, because they own the scallop - it was given to them. They own most of the beach in Aldeburgh. Wherever you are going to put it it's still Suffolk Coastal and of course, they are a party to this agreement with the artist,” he said.

Mr Gordon stressed that they were concerned with the siting rather than the work itself, and praised the craftsmanship of Dennis and Sam Pegg, the steel fabricators who worked with Miss Hambling on the sculpture.

But Mr Herring said he did not accept the sculpture was in the wrong place.

“In terms of setting up a working group, that's fine if they want to do that. We won't be doing that at Suffolk Coastal. We have conducted a review and come to a conclusion,” he said.

“We won't be taking the lead in that. It needs to come from Aldeburgh.”

He added: “They are a sizeable town, they have got resources, they have got a committee of people who want to pursue an alternative site. They need to do that.”

Maggi Hambling said: “I'm very disappointed that the scallop is not being given a chance to settle which I am sure it will in time. I made the scallop for that particular place in juxtaposition with the sea, and that is where I want it to stay.”

Sarah.chambers@eadt.co.uk

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